E20. The Busy Communicator's Guide to Systems Thinking

Season #1 Episode #20

ONE:  Systems Thinking is a fundamental term coined by Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman who through is research established there are dual processes within the brain that function together. He published a ground-breaking book called Thinking Fast & Slow in 2011 which quickly entered the New York Times bestsellers list. He called  them System 1 and System 2 

TWO: System 1 also known as the homer brain (yes as in Homer Simpson) or the hare (yes the one from the tortoise & hare analogy) it is fast, automatic, dominant, developed over evolutionary to keep you safe. Making thousands of decisions a day on your behalf.

THREE: System 2. Aka Spock (yes the one from Star Trek) is slow, methodical, concentrates and is pretty lazy. 

FOUR: It’s important to understand that these processes work together and we should value both systems – although system 1. Challenge can be when using the right one. 

 FIVE: This Heuristics or biases or rules of thumb all mean the same thing. They are shortcuts that sit in our System 1 brain.  They have evolved with the human race, designed to keep us alive they make tens of thousands of decisions on our behalf – subconsciously  - every day. They pick up on the cues, the triggers, the fears within our environments and assign actions. They have been very popular in marketing and advertising for some time, for example anchoring the price or product, using scarcity or a sale to drive sales tapping into our emotions with powerful sensory tactics and using social norms to influence change. 

Why do I care as a communicator?

 Well because Spock is lazy and he doesn’t want to be used very often so if your work is confusing or unclear at any level Spock will kick in….and did I mention we’re lazy…. It is by no accident that advertising giants such as Ogilvy have been tapping into our emotions to prime us to associate that brand with emotions. 


In Behaviour Change Marketing Bootcamp Live & OnDemand we go deep into the world of behavioural biases to skill up on how we can use them inhouse to brief agencies, set strategy, develop copy and frame insight development. To ultimately understand our audience so we can communicate change, influence behaviour and increase impact.

Further reading: 

Thinking Fast & Slow by Daniel Kahneman 

Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely